happy halloween!

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From our family to yours – happy halloween! Our Shark was completely adorable and enjoyed his evening greeting trick-or-treaters and knocking on his neighbors’ doors.

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Sammy slept well last night – and mom indulged in some of his candy, of course!

XOXO

 

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It’s the day before Christmas…

Margaret Berg Art : Illustration : holiday / christmas::

It’s the day before Christmas,
and all through our house,
not many gifts were wrapped,
and I haven’t seen my spouse.

True Story. I feel like I haven’t seen my husband in a couple days (late work nights and late solo shopping adventures). My body is achey and it hurts to walk. If I am getting mastitis again, just shoot me now.

Our shopping isn’t done – we have 5 people left to buy for. My baby boy is fighting his bassinet at night – so we’ve been sleeping in the recliner. Hello, stiff neck!

With a little encouragement from my husband this morning, I’m trying my best to suck it up and carry on. After all, it’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. Our first Christmas as a family (with a baby), in the home that we own!

We’re getting off work a little early today, hubby will finish up a little shopping, and hopefully take a quick nap before heading out for the evening. What’s on our agenda? Church service and then a casual visit with J’s parents and extended family.

In the morning, we’ll wake up and doing Christmas as a family of 3 in our new home. We’ll take our time, then go to my parents for breakfast. Following tradition, we’ll have mom’s Spanish Brunch recipe (eggs, cottage cheese, monterrey jack cheese, green chiles, and maybe another kind of cheese too?), with cinnamon rolls and coffee. And, open gifts of course. Gifts before breakfast… duh.

We plan to visit and relax there until early afternoon, then we’ll head to my in-laws for dinner and gifts. I have a sneaking suspicion that Sammy is going to win the Christmas lottery and make it difficult for me to find places to store all of his goodies.

Keeping our little Sammy on a bedtime schedule is pretty important these days, and with the holidays, we will do the best we can. We’ll try to be home at 8 or a little after to get little guy bathed and tucked in bed.

Saturday morning we’ll make our way to Arkansas to visit J’s dad & family. We will have to do some kind of shopping on our way, because I just won’t get that accomplished before Saturday. Not possible.

I love giving gifts and seeing the look of surprise on our loved ones faces. I also seeing my husband’s looks of surprise when he finds out what we got for people! He said he wanted to be more involved in shopping this year, but when it came down to it, he slept in the car while I braved the crowds. Oh well. There’s always next year, babe.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Stay tuned for photos from our Christmases and a 4-month update on our little guy soon.

XO
Andrea

 

Five on Friday

Friday is here. The last Friday before Christmas. Exciting, right? Well, when you’ve only finished shopping for one person (congrats to my brother for being the easiest to shop for), stressed is the word I would use instead of excited.

Work has been insane since I’ve returned from maternity leave, and Christmastime is no exception. Sammy hasn’t been sleeping particularly awesome this week. Our Keurig is acting up, meaning I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee all week. And, my house is a disaster. Like F5 tornado disaster.

But, seriously, what else is new? I’ve got this.

I’m taking a time-out from my work day to unwind and type a blog post. Who knows how short or how long this Five on Friday might be…

1. Breastmilk Storage Bag Dilemma

I have a post in my “drafts” folder, but instead of finishing it, I’ll just use this post to tell you about a recent product fail.

So as you know, I’m a breastfeeding momma, and a working momma, which means I’m a pumping momma. I pump 21-24 oz. each day while I’m at work. I use a Medela pump and am working on finding the best brand of breastmilk storage bags.

My favorites are the Lansinoh bags, however I can only find the 6 oz. on store shelves around here. I’ll definitely be ordering the 10 oz. size from Amazon. Target’s Up&Up brand is okay, but I don’t feel as confident in their seal and they are a little difficult to turn down to pour into without making a mess. The total product fail for me is the Medela Pump & Save bags.
medela bags They just suck. Here’s why:

  • The quality of the plastic is not good. Doesn’t seem durable at all.
  • They are made to hook up to your pump. Why would I want to do that if the measuring guide on the bag is full of crap? Oh, and what if one of my boobs has more than 5 oz. in it? Because that happens A LOT.
  • Their seal is crappy.
  • They have a tiny opening at the top. I usually make a mess and don’t get all of that liquid gold into the baggie.
  • They are made to stand-up like this. Therefore the milk freezes in a large chunk. You can’t stack them in the freezer. They take longer to thaw because they are frozen in a large chunk.

One of my friends gave these to me after she stopped breastfeeding. I’m super glad I didn’t spend money on these, because I would be mailing them back to the company with this list!

 

 

2. Mississippi Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast | This is the easiest and most delicious crock pot meal you'll ever make! It's one of those dump it in recipes that turns into pure magic! It's a family favorite. IF you have left overs, it can be used to stretch into more weekly meals. | TodaysCreativeLife.com:

Make it. You won’t be sorry!

3. Is it tax time yet?

Each year, I live for the day our tax return hits our bank account. We are the type to have the most taken out of our checks, and then we live it up when we receive that fat return check. This year, we get to claim the baby too. Whoop!

I’ve been planning what we’ll do with the money for several months now. My initial plan was to have a privacy fence installed. We live on a corner and don’t have a fence. If we go outside, everybody can see what we do. No privacy at all. However, I think the fence is going to have to take a backseat to a mattress. We need a new mattress SO BAD. And, we’ve got to upgrade to a King. So necessary. Our current queen-size mattress is on it’s last leg.

If I’m lucky enough to get the baby to sleep in his bassinet (in our bedroom), I get into bed like a stealthy ninja… because our mattress creaks and squeaks like no other. Most of the time he wakes up. It’s awful.

With our return this year I want to buy a new bed and mattress, go to a nice dinner, and pay off a debt that will relieve a few hundred dollars a month!

I’ve had my eye on this beauty at Ashley Furniture for a few months. Kasidon King Upholstered Bed by Signature Design by Ashley 55" Becker world:

I’m not a fan of the bedspread, but come on, that headboard is everything. My hubby hates foot boards because he is tall, and I hate running into them. I love how this one looks complete even though it doesn’t have a foot board. You better believe it is coming home with me this spring…

I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself because we can’t file our taxes until we receive our W2’s and interest statements. Duh.

4. Looking forward to 12:30 tomorrow…

Because I’m getting a massage. Praise, God!

One of my sweet friends couldn’t come to my baby shower, but got me a card with a gift certificate for a massage. This is what all friends should do for a pregnant woman. I had an easy pregnancy, not a lot of aches and pains, so I decided to save that precious gift certificate for after I had the baby.

I need that massage now more than ever.

I’ll let you in on a secret… I told my husband that the massage was at noon instead of 12:30 p.m. I plan on sneaking out of the house early to sit in the “quiet room” at the spa in my soft, heavy robe while listening to the fountain. Ahhhh, perfection!

5. Just some photos of my sweet baby Sammy! Enjoy!

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I should get back to doing something productive at work. Happy Friday! Wish me luck shopping tonight!

 

Five on Friday – I Survived

It’s Friday morning. I’m at my desk. I was on time to work this morning. I didn’t spill hot coffee on my crotch while driving to work this morning (that was yesterday). It’s sunny. Today’s going to be a good day.

While I haven’t yet made it through the work day, I know I’ve survived my first week back to work after baby. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have had to come back to work full time. In the real world, I had to. I’ve been out of college and working for 4 years. We have student loan debt and my husband has only been out of grad school for a year and a half… so financially I didn’t have a choice but to come back to work.

I feel blessed to have spent nine and half weeks at home with my boy. They have been the best weeks of my life. Somehow, it flew by and it feels like I blinked and I’m back at my desk that is covered in layers of bright colored post-its, stacks of binders and charts, and I’m staring at ‘coffee cup graveyard’ – the spot on my desk where I seem to accumulate coffee cups from the week.

The first 3 days were tough, and it’s still tough, but my tears have dried up (for now). I treat each morning like a mission: Go to work, do a good job, leave on time, drive safely above the speed limit on the way home, and attack my baby with kisses, snuggles, and funny faces.

Here’s a Five on Friday, with a little bit of everything…

1. easy, hearty, healthy

Crockpot sweet potato, chicken, and quinoa soup. SO good and super healthy!

Image from Chelsea’s Messy Apron – read her original recipe here

A Crock Pot is God’s gift to working women, especially in the cooler months. We have made this recipe twice, and I was sure to put it on our menu for this week since I knew I didn’t want to have to mess with dinner when I got home from work.

I’ve linked to the original recipe above, but I will give you a quick run down of how I make it:

  • 3-4 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 big can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 packet of McCormick chili seasoning
  • 3-5 cups chicken broth (I make broth from Wyler’s cubes)

I put the chicken in the bottom of the Crock Pot and then put everything else in top and stir, making sure the chicken stays on the bottom. Because our Crock Pot isn’t huge, I add as much broth as I can until it is filled to the brim. If we feel like it should be more broth-y when we serve it, we ladle out a bowl and then add more broth to the pot.

This stuff is good. It may sound kind of weird, but it is seriously yummy and tastes even better as left overs. I know we will continue eating this throughout the cold months!

2. seriously good

I don’t think I need to say anything else here.

3. christmas is just around the corner

… and I am so excited! This will be the first Christmas in our house and Sammy’s first Christmas. Yay! I’m already mentally planning how my husband will be doing our Christmas lights on the house. I’ve already bought some presents for baby – I’m not an early shopper, this is early for me.

Of course, I’ve started thinking about what I might want for Christmas and one thing stands out. All this momma wants is a decent non-stick skillet. Seriously. I need one bad. I can’t make eggs, pancakes, or french toast without f-ing it up because my non-stick skillets suck so bad. (I cook everything else in stainless.)

Sure, I could just pick one up at Walmart when I’m there (which is all the time), but I’ve made it this long (2 years) or so cooking with this shit so I’ll just ride it out. If I don’t get a new skillet for Christmas, I’m going to the store and buying one the next day.

I know my husband is sick of my complaining about them and probably even more sick of eating badly cooked (aka burned) food so I’m sure he’ll pull through.

4. junk show!

My little assistant elf has been working so hard on chalkboard art for the 2 Friends & Junk Show next weekend! (Read about last year’s show here.) Because I was super pregnant and have a babe, I haven’t been working on furniture pieces. I decided to make holiday-themed chalkboard art using old/cheap photo frames.

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Sammy sits very still on my lap and watches. I have my fingers crossed that these sell so I can buy some surprise presents for hubby.

5. i’m mad for plaid

Who isn’t these days? I love plaid, but have a hard time wearing it. I feel like the perfectly horizontal and vertical lines make my broad shoulders even more wide. I’m a little bit large chested, which makes button up shirts difficult and since I’m a nursing momma — button up shirts are a joke.

When I saw this dress online, I loved it and thought I could make it work. It should be in my mailbox when I get home! Wouldn’t it be perfect for family photos for our Christmas card? Since we have a baby we are totally doing a photo card this year. I’m sure my husband will hate that idea.

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That’s all I have for today! I’m hoping to get Sammy’s 2 month update posted this weekend so stay tuned for photos of one super cute boy.

Trick-or-Treat, Smell my feet!

I love it when fun holidays fall on the weekend — well, except for Christmas because I like an extra day or two off work. (Did you know Christmas is on a Friday this year?)

Don’t let me get ahead of myself, this was Sammy’s first Halloween! I searched Amazon for a couple weeks prior to Halloween and decided on buying a baby bunting costume in hopes of it fitting him okay. Since we are big time Ohio State Buckeyes fans, an OSU replica costume was perfect. Oh, and the longer you wait to order the costume the cheaper it gets! I bought his costume for $8!

Onesie is from Children’s Place

Testing out Mommy’s new area rug (an early Christmas present!). We all love it!

Since he has been grasping things, we tried to get him to hold his pumpkin pail. 

Success! First family photo on Halloween. 

  Hanging out with grandma and Lucy before heading out to his other grandparents. 

We made quick trips to the grandparents’ houses and grabbed a bite to eat at the drive through and got home right as it was getting dark. I had high hopes for lots of trick-or-treaters in our new neighborhood. Unfortunately, it was a bust! We had about 20 kids. The good news is that we have LOTS of candy to ourselves. Side note: Can we all agree that Take 5 bars are the best damn candy bar ever made?

With that being said, we were able to watch most of the World Series game uninterrupted by the door bell. (Go Royals! #takethecrown) Today, we are having family time and I’m soaking up every minute with my baby boy as I go back to work full time tomorrow. Say a prayer for us!

Happy Sunday & Happy Halloween!

Italian Stuffed French Toast

Jeremy and I woke up this morning, snuggled in bed for a while, then turned on the TV. Last night we had watched the marathon of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives so the TV was still on the Food Network. We tuned in just in time to see the beginning of Giada’s Family Christmas. She made a delicious-looking french toast using Panattone.

It made us both hungry for french toast – but  Jeremy wanted THAT french toast.  He took a solo trip to the grocery and came back with the ingredients to make our own version of her recipe. We are calling it Italian Stuffed French Toast.

If you are interested in reading Giada’s recipe, click here.

Italian Stuffed French Toast

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T heavy cream

Syrup How-To:

  1. Whisk the water and brown sugar together. Gradually bring it to a boil.
  2. Once the syrup reaches a boil, turn the burner to low and slowly let it cool.
  3. Just before serving, add cinnamon and heavy cream to flavor and thicken the syrup even more.
  4. We poured this into a mason jar and took it to the table!

Now onto the star of the show, the TOAST!

French Toast Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread from your grocery’s bakery. Ours was pre-sliced.
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temp if possible
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • Bananas & powdered sugar for garnish

French Toast How-To:

  1. Create the custard. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, and cream. (Note: Giadi used whole milk and heavy cream. We drink skim milk so we added more heavy cream because our milk didn’t carry the same fat that whole milk would. Your choice on milk/cream ratio!)
  2. Assemble bread and cheese sandwiches. Spread cream cheese between slices of raisin bread. Put as much or as little cheese as you like. I will admit, the best bites are the bites with quite a bit of cheese!

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  3. Dunk the sandwiches into the custard mixture.

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  4. Place a few sandwiches on a lightly buttered griddle or non-stick pan.

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  5. When they become browned on one side, flip them!
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  6. Once both sides are browned, get these on a plate! While we love the idea of garnishing with berries, like Giadi did, we didn’t have any in our fridge and they can be pricey this time of year. We went with sliced bananas, because we already had them. The bananas paired nicely with the raisins and the cinnamon flavor of the syrup!

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Looks yummy, right? We both loved this dessert breakfast. The bread was firm, yet soaked with custard. The cheese was gooey and was a perfect complement to the ultra-sweet syrup and the bananas added a freshness to the dish. Jeremy said he was surprised that it didn’t take long at all to put this together.

We are more than excited about the leftovers in the fridge. Breakfast for dinner, anyone?

Catching Up…

Good Thursday morning to you! I’ve taken a little hiatus from blogging because life has been pretty darn busy. Between Christmas parties, shopping, date night, and the birth of a new cousin (!!!), life has been a whirlwind lately. I won’t complain – I kind of like it.

…Except the part where my whole house is a disaster because we are never home to clean up the messes we  I make when we are I am there.

So, here’s what we’ve been up to…

Date Night at the Nutcracker

My sweet husband planned a date night for us to see the Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker, which was in town for a one time show.

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We enjoyed wine, popcorn, and the show was fabulous. I love ballet and this production was done SO well. It was beautiful! Here are a few photos we snapped from our seats, way up in the nosebleeds. The tickets weren’t cheap so we settled for the upper balcony.

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Parties

Last Friday we attended Jeremy’s office Christmas party, which was held at one of the physician’s homes. Typically I’m not nervous in social situations at all, but since Jeremy’s the “new guy” and I had never met anyone before, I was a little anxious.

The party was really nice. Lots of mingling, eating & drinking, and a friendly gift swap. The doctors provided the food – and it was delish. Jeremy and I agreed that our favorite appetizer was the simplest. A toothpick with cheese tortellini, mozzarella, cherry tomato, and a basil leaf drizzled with a light vinaigrette. Fresh & flavorful! This recipe for Tortellini Caprese Bites seems very similar to what we had. I definitely plan to re-create these.

Oh, and the hosting doc gave Jeremy a frozen pheasant. Looks like I’ll be googling pheasant recipes!

The next day we attended Jeremy’s annual family Christmas party. We had a great time like usual visiting, eating, drinking – and this time we toured his cousins’ new house. Here’s a group photo we snapped at the end… Can you say flowy shirt fail on my part? That’s right – I’m the purple blob in the front.

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Shopping

…or the lack there of. I was feeling good about my progress so far, and then I realized that this weekend is the last weekend before Christmas. Traffic has been nuts near the mall during the day, and I know it’s only going to get worse. I will just have to bite the bullet and finish up. I plan to start early in the day on Saturday so I don’t waste my whole day looking for a parking spot and standing in line.

With that being said, I have found some great deals on Amazon, Zulily, and Groopdealz this year. I am truly excited for our family to open the gifts that are waiting under the tree!! (That’s right, I’ve wrapped everything I have bought!)

Archie’s Arrival

My cousin Nick and his wife Sydney welcomed a little one into our family this week. Archie Scot came 5 weeks early, weighing just under 5 pounds. He is too cute and is the perfect addition to our family, just in time for Christmas! Photos later 🙂

 

That’s all for now – back to work!